El Dorado — South by Southwest
by Teresa Iverson
The sign in front of the fried chicken place
reads — EL DORADO 31 MILES.
DeSoto believed he was nearer. You can trace
his journey between cotton aisles
into a forest where its stutter
of dots ends on a map. With a child’s
impatient grasping, his gold fervor
stoked, DeSoto saw as he lay dying
seven cities across a thicket, each richer
than the next in a fever of foreshortening.
A hum along the highway brings news
of this spot to cities, visions springing
from the coastal plain—when we arrive we cruise
the Dairy Queen in a Continental.
The seasons in their holding pattern, bayous
reversing their flow: rampant oil
slicks the moss trailing the shade of a cypress.
A man drops a line from his cane pole
into a bayou as frayed at the edge
as the continent in early maps angling
toward Japan, the rivers all flowing west.
Copyright © 2011 by Teresa Iverson.